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Comparison of modular and traditional UK housing construction: a bibliometric analysis

Falaq Assad Nazir (Birmingham City University, Birmingham, UK)
David John Edwards (School of Engineering and Built Environment, Birmingham City University, Birmingham, UK)
Mark Shelbourn (Birmingham City University, Birmingham, UK)
Igor Martek (Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia)
Wellington Didibhuku Didibhuku Thwala (Construction Management and Quantity Surveying, University of Johannesburg, Doornfontein, South Africa)
Hatem El-Gohary (Department of Marketing, College of Business and Economics, Qatar University, Doha, Qatar)

Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology

ISSN: 1726-0531

Article publication date: 10 July 2020

Issue publication date: 3 March 2021




Housing completions in the UK have fallen to 125,000 annually, while government targets have risen to 300,000. This dramatic shortfall raises concerns as to whether current traditional construction approaches remain appropriate. This study aims to compare the traditional approach with modular construction, with a view to assessing whether a shift in construction systems offers the potential to alleviate the UK's domestic housing crisis.


A comprehensive interpretivist review of the available relevant literature is undertaken on construction methods within the UK; advantages and disadvantages. A bibliometric analysis is conducted to extract trends and findings relevant to the comparison at hand. The database is Web of Science; the analysis software is the VOS viewer.


The research illustrates that the UK housing market is in a state of crisis. A toxic combination of a rising UK population combined falling rates of housing delivery has resulted in an ever-widening housing supply gap. The construction industry’s capacity to meet this observed dearth in supply is further exacerbated by a number of chronic factors such as: falling participation in the construction sector workforce; lowering skill levels; reducing profitability; time to delivery pressures; and cost blow-outs.


While much information on the various construction methods are available, including comparative material, this study is the first to assemble the various comparative parameters regarding traditional and modular UK residential construction in one place. Thus, this study provides a definitive assessment of the relative advantages and disadvantages of these forms of construction.



First of all, the first author wishes to praise the almighty Allah SWT – for giving the blessing and strength to complete this research study. The first author also wishes to express their sincere thanks and gratitude to all of the professional practitioners and organisations that have participated in this research, as well as family members of his beloved parents and brothers. Without your support and encouragement, this paper could not have been published.


Nazir, F.A., Edwards, D.J., Shelbourn, M., Martek, I., Thwala, W.D.D. and El-Gohary, H. (2021), "Comparison of modular and traditional UK housing construction: a bibliometric analysis", Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp. 164-186.



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